Proposed Constitutional Amendments to the Texas State Constitution largely lack any protections for Texan’s Liberties and are in some cases flat out bizarre.
The 88th Legislative Session wrapped up in May, and even though there is a special session ongoing, with an additional one scheduled for October, the results of this year’s legislative session are beginning to take form. All the laws signed by Governor Abbot take effect on September 1st, unless specified by the bill itself. There are however several pieces of legislation that bypass the Governor’s Desk altogether, and instead go directly before the People of Texas in November, amendments to the State Constitution. The potential amendments were just filed for the November ballot by the Secretary of State.
Obviously, it is up to the sovereign people of Texas to determine if they want to adopt the proposed amendments, however, it is the duty of this author in this opinion column to try and persuade you to be either for or against the measures. There are 14 amendments covering a range of different issues that are up for consideration this year. We shall look at them individually. We will have to break this up into separate articles to save on space. However, I urge everyone to read all of the information in this. The amendments are directly quoted from the propositions themselves in as complete as possible.
Proposition 1 (HJR 126)
Sec. 36. (a) The people have the right to engage in
generally accepted farm, ranch, timber production, or wildlife management practices on real property they own or lease.
(b) This section does not affect the authority of the legislature
to authorize by general law:
(1) a state agency or political subdivision to
regulate where there is clear and convincing evidence
that the law or regulation is necessary to protect the
public health and safety from imminent danger; or
(2) a state agency to regulate to prevent a danger to
animal health or crop production.
This amendment is a tricky one in my opinion. Section 34 of the Constitution already states (a) The people have the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife, including by the use of traditional methods, subject to laws or regulations to conserve and manage wildlife and preserve the future of hunting and fishing. Why then would we pass an amendment that puts this right under a state agency or political subdivision? It’s a trap! VOTE NO!
Proposition 2 from SJR 64
The Constitution currently states “Sec. 1. EQUALITY AND UNIFORMITY OF TAXATION; TAXATION OF PROPERTY IN PROPORTION TO VALUE; OCCUPATION AND INCOME TAXES; EXEMPTION OF CERTAIN TANGIBLE PERSONAL PROPERTY AND SMALL MINERAL INTERESTS FROM AD VALOREM TAXATION; VALUATION OF RESIDENCE HOMESTEADS FOR TAX PURPOSES. (a) Taxation shall be equal and uniform.”
The proposed amendment reads:
Sec. 1-r. The governing body of a county or municipality may exempt from ad valorem taxation all or part of the appraised value of real property used to operate a child-care facility. The governing body may adopt the exemption as a percentage of the appraised value of the real property. The percentage specified by the governing body may not be less than 50 percent. The legislature by general law may define “child-care facility” for purposes of this section and may provide additional eligibility requirements for the exemption authorized by this section.
This is simply a way of taking some pressure off the Legislature for real property tax reform, which in the end is a bad thing. Why would we vote to go from equal to unequal tax burdens? Vote NO!
Proposition 3 from HJR 132
The Amendment reads:
Sec. 25. The legislature may not impose a tax based on the
wealth or net worth of an individual or family, including a tax based on the difference between the assets and liabilities of an individual or family.
Currently there is no form of taxation that remotely resembles anything that this amendment would ban.
I am generally in favor of limiting the government from coming up with stupid ideas such as a personal wealth tax.
Proposition 4 from HJR2
(b-1)AAA political subdivision of this state may not impose an advalorem tax on real or personal property in this state for any purpose on or afterJanuary 1, 2029.
(b-2)AAThe state takes full responsibility for the guarantee of the repayment of all bonds issued by a school district before November 7, 2023, and secured by the revenue from the ad valorem taxes imposed by those entities before January 1, 2029. The legislature shall enact laws for the implementation of this subsection.
While this seems at first to be a good thing, it again takes the pressure off of the Legislature to pass actual “good” property tax relief and reform. People are losing their houses paying a tax on “their property” which begs the question as to whether one actually owns the property in the first place. Yes taxes need to be collected to pay for the running of government, but meaningful tax solutions need to take priority over this piecemeal approach. We would be better to stay unified on this instead of allowing ourselves to be divided and conquered.
Proposition 5 from HJR 3
SECTION 1. Section 49-g, Article III, Texas Constitution, is amended by adding Subsections (p) and (q) to read as follows:
(p) On the first business day occurring on or after the 90th day of each state fiscal year, an amount equal to the interest income, dividends, and investment earnings attributable to the economic stabilization fund for the preceding state fiscal year, not to exceed the amount determined under Subsection (q) of this section, is appropriated from the economic stabilization fund to the comptroller of public accounts for the purpose of immediate deposit to the credit of the Texas University Fund. For purposes of this subsection, the amount of interest income, dividends, and investment earnings attributable to the economic stabilization fund for a state fiscal year is computed by:
(1) determining the amount of interest and dividends
due to the fund for that fiscal year, including any interest
credited to general revenue under Subsection (i) of this
(2) adding to the amount determined under Subdivision
(1) of this subsection an amount equal to the increase, if any,
in the fair market value of the fund between the last day
of that fiscal year and the last day of the preceding state
fiscal year; and
(3) subtracting from the amount determined under Subdivision (2) of this subsection the amount of any expenses of managing the investments of money in the fund that are paid from the fund during that fiscal year.
(q) The amount of the appropriation made under Subsection
(p) of this section may not exceed:
(1) for the state fiscal year beginning September 1, 2023,
$100 million; or
(2) for a state fiscal year beginning on or after September 1, 2024, the amount determined under this subsection for the preceding state fiscal year adjusted by the increase, if any, in the general price level during the preceding state fiscal year, as determined by the comptroller of public accounts on the basis of changes in the consumer price index published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States Department of Labor or a successor agency and not to exceed two percent per state fiscal year.
SECTION 2. Section 20, Article VII, Texas Constitution, is amended by amending Subsections (a) and (g) and adding Subsection
(i) to read as follows:
(a) There is established the Texas University Fund [national research university fund] for the purpose of providing a dedicated, independent, and equitable source of funding to enable emerging research universities in this state to achieve national prominence as major research universities.
(g) The legislature shall establish criteria by which a state university may become eligible to receive a portion of the distributions from the fund. A state university that is entitled to participate in dedicated funding provided by Section 18 of this article is [becomes eligible to receive a portion of the distributions from the fund in a state fiscal biennium remains eligible to receive additional distributions from the fund in any subsequent state fiscal biennium. The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University are] not eligible to receive money from the fund.
(i) For purposes of Section 22, Article VIII, of this constitution:
(1) money in the fund is dedicated by this constitution; and
(2) an appropriation of state tax revenues for the purpose of depositing money to the credit of the fund is treated as if it were an appropriation of revenues dedicated by this constitution.
If you just read all of that, 1. Good for you, 2. Vote NO! Does it seem like a good idea to anyone in their right mind to provide the State government the ability to shuffle around money like a 3-card monte game in street to Universities run by leftists? Yeah, I didn’t think so either. Vote NO!
There are 14 Amendments, and we have gone through 5! The only Yes vote from me is the one that limited the government. I would suggest that we as Texans vote to limit the government and not our own liberties. We shall continue with this series in next month’s issue. Thanks for reading!